The SmarK Rant for TNA Slammiversary 2012 Live from Arlington, TX, a HUGE crowd that looks like a legit arena sellout crowd instead of the usual Orlando TV taping crowd. That’s a huge difference in presentation right there. By the way, this is my first TNA PPV purchase in a very long time, as the Joseph Park v. Bully Ray feud, plus the AJ/Angle v. Daniels/Kazarian match, were enough to convince me to drop $45 in their direction. Your hosts are Mike Tenay & Taz General Manager Hulk Hogan starts us out, and he’s pushing our buttons, brother. So the first match is Austin Aries defending the X title against Samoa Joe, even though he’s over 225 pounds. X Division Title: Austin Aries v. Samoa Joe Joe overpowers Aries to start, but Austin comes in with some strikes and gets destroyed in that battle. Aries snaps off a rana to put Joe on the floor, but the suicide dive proves to be suicide, as he runs into a kick on the way down. Back in, Joe spinkicks him in the corner and adds the boot-rubs for two. Snap powerslam gets two. Aries blocks a blind charge, but runs into another big boot and Joe dumps him. Joe’s charge misses, and NOW Aries gets his suicide dive right after. That was a great sequence. Aries with a neckbreaker on the apron and he goes up with a missile dropkick, but Joe catches him on a charge and hits an Emerald Frozen for two. They slug it out and Aries tries another rana, but Joe reverses to the powerbomb for two and then right into a Boston crab. And from there into an STF. That doesn’t work, so he hangs on with a crucifix for two. Nice to see Joe motivated to bust out the old chain wrestling stuff. Joe slugs away in the corner and sets up for the muscle buster, but Aries lays him out and hits the 450 for two. Aries wins a slugfest, but walks into a chokehold, which he manages to reverse into a cover for two. He charges and runs into the uranage and now Joe is pissed, but he can’t get the muscle buster, as Aries reverses into a crucifix bomb. That’s crazy. Aries keeps fighting with a dropkick in the corner and into the brainbuster for the pin at 11:45. Felt a tad abrupt, but that was a hell of a opener. Aries is just unreal right now, and Joe looked motivated enough to trade toe-to-toe with him tonight. ****1/4 Kid Kash v. Hernandez Well this is certainly random. I thought Anarquia got fired, but Hernandez is still being introduced as half of Mexican America. Kash gets shoulderblocked right out of the ring to start, and Hernandez slingshots him back in and tosses him around the ring. Kash chokes him out to take over and goes to an armbar, but Hernandez blocks it. I don’t know if the production or cameras or what, but TNA’s HD broadcast looks way better than WWE’s. The colors are super-bright and almost blown out (like Kash’s yellow tights here) and it’s all crystal clear. I find WWE stuff to be almost lower resolution and darker. TNA might be doing 1080 and WWE 720, I’m not sure. Anyway, Kash gets a nice tornado DDT, but Hernandez makes the unlikely babyface comeback and gets a big reaction for it. He tosses Kash and follows with the MEXICAN OUTTA CONTROL DIVE, which is pretty awesome, but Kash gets a cheapshot coming back in. They fight to the top and Hernandez tosses him off like nothing and follows with the big splash to finish at 5:45. This was surprisingly fun and hard-hitting. **1/2 Robbie E & Robbie T v. Devon & Garrett Bischoff Robbie E suffers the WRATH OF CARROT in the corner to start, and decides to bring Robbie T in instead. Terry gets nowhere, so E trips up Bischoff and the Jersey Boyz beat on him in the corner. E gets a clothesline for two. Meanwhile, Madison Rayne watches from the ramp, as apparently her secret crush is in this match. Hopefully the lucky guy woos her with a cheeseburger, because she needs one. E with a chinlock and thankfully Garrett makes the hot tag to Devon to end the bad portion of the match. Devon destroys E and hits an avalanche and shoulderblock for two, showing WAY more charisma and crispness in a few moves than Garrett has the entire match. Devon finishes E with the spinebuster at 5:56. This is a good role for Devon right now. *1/2 #1 Contender match: Mr. Anderson v. Rob Van Dam v. Jeff Hardy Jeff Hardy flips a coin and attacks RVD first in a cute spot, but Anderson goes after both guys. He collides with RVD in the corner and Hardy hits the running dive on RVD for two, but Anderson with a neckbreaker for two. Rob lays out both guys with spinkicks and tries the monkey flip on Anderson, but it’s blocked with a pin attempt for two. They stack up in the corner and tease the Tower of Doom spot, but Anderson breaks it up and just hits a superplex on Hardy instead…and RVD pops up and nearly hits them both with the frog splash before they both move at the last moment. They all slug it out from their knees and Rob gets a spinkick into a rollup on Hardy for two, and a missile dropkick for two. Split legged moonsault on Anderson gets two. He monkey flips Anderson onto Hardy and gets two, but slugs it out with Anderson and Ken backslides him for two. Hardy breaks it up by trying to pin RVD himself, and he gets two off that. That’s unique. Anderson with the Regal roll on Hardy and a clothesline gets two. Anderson and RVD slug it out on the floor, so Hardy hits them both with a top rope dive. Hardy brings RVD in and gets the Whisper in the Wind for two. Twist of Fate and he gets rid of Anderson before going up with the swanton, but it only gets two because Anderson saves. He tosses Hardy for the big bump, and reverses Rolling Thunder into the Mic Check to finish RVD and win the match at 11:25. Not really the result anyone wanted to see, but this was pretty great for a midcard three-way, with a bunch of cool and unique spots. ***1/2 And if Anderson loses the title match, he can always team up with Bobby Roode instead as the Roode Assholes. Meanwhile, Crimson doesn’t know or care who has accepted his open challenge for tonight. Uh oh, he should talk to Honky Tonk Man about what happens when you say stuff like that. Crimson v. James Storm Storm clotheslines him to the floor and suplexes him back in, then slugs away on the mat. Chops in the corner, but Crimson clubs him from behind and throws Nash elbows in the corner. He walks into a clothesline, however, and Storm finishes with a codebreaker and superkick to end the streak at 2:10. Now that’s how you push a guy. They didn’t waste the streak on a guy too far down the card to help, or on a guy already established as a top guy who wouldn’t need it. I approve of this product or service. *1/2 Meanwhile, Austin Aries wants to be the main event, because he’s awesome. Dixie Carter comes out to introduce the first member of the TNA Hall of Fame…Sting. That’s as good a choice as any. Knockouts Title: Gail Kim v. Miss Tessmacher They fight outside the ring quickly, and Kim brings Tessmacher back in, but runs into a clothesline. Kim blocks a bulldog attempt, and takes her down with a shoulderbreaker for two. Kim works her over with holds on the mat and chokes her out on the ropes, then adds a neckbreaker and sends her to the floor. Back in, Tessmacher is dead and Kim goes to finish, but changes her mind and decides to use Tessmacher’s own move, which is then reversed to a rollup for the pin and title at 7:02. I’m thinking Kim will get that one back pretty quick. Dull match, but at least the babyface went over in her home state. Crazy notion, I know. * Bully Ray v. Joseph Park, ESQUIRE Park is wearing a track suit in what has to be a rib on Johnny Ace and his dorky ring attire. Bully offers Joseph a free shot, but doesn’t actually let him have it. Park’s whiffing punches and awkward movements are some spectacular acting on his part. Bully, as a bully, keeps talking shit and slapping Park around, so Park finally smacks him one and Bully lays him out. Bully lays in the beating while the crowd informs him that New York sucks, and Park manages to get a hold of a chair. So of course Ray begs off and then hits him from behind to end that threat. What an awesome dynamic. The match is crap, but they just know their characters incredibly well. Bully just kills Park with chairs to the back and beats on him outside. Back in, Bully goes up and misses the senton, and Park makes the improbable comeback with THE POWER OF ATTORNEY, firing away in the corner with everything he’s got. Which isn’t much, because Bully boots him down again and retrieves a table. He once again takes too long setting up his big attack with the kendo stick, and Park hits him low and uses the stick for two. Park’s reactions to all this craziness and his facials are just unbelievable, and I’m kind of sad they stuck him under a mask for so long. Park gets dumped and he hides under the ring…but ABYSS emerges from the other side (wearing a face-obscuring hoodie), chokeslams Bully through the table, and then he disappears again. Joseph returns and gets the pin at 10:20. At this point I have no idea if we as the audience are supposed to be thinking they’re two different people, or where this storyline is actually going, but I love it. This goofiness worked way better than it had any right to. I actually like this match more the more I think about it. *** Now from here they can easily write Park out if they need to, but I hope they don’t. Christian, you know, the current WWE Intercontinental champion, comes out to introduce the #1 moment in TNA history: Sting’s debut. Weird that they couldn’t actually advertise him. A very weird and cool show thus far, that’s for sure. TNA World tag titles: Kazarian & Christopher Daniels v. AJ Styles & Kurt Angle Speaking of great angles where I have no idea where they’re going, the Dixie Carter thing is tremendous, because the obvious payoff would seem to be some sort of innocent relationship between AJ and herself exploited by lying heels, but why exactly IS Dixie freaking out like this? I’m intrigued! I want to know where the story is going! The champs attack, but AJ nails Kaz with a spinkick and gets the high dropkick on Daniels. To the floor, where AJ slides under the railing and springboards back over with a forearm. That was AWESOME. Back in, kneedrop gets two. Double-team suplex gets two on Kazarian and Angle pounds him in the corner, but he gets caught in the heel side and Daniels takes over. Angle gets AJ back in, but he goes up and Kazarian kicks him down and leaves him tied up and hanging upside down in a pretty crazy manner. AJ is your face-in-peril and Daniels comes in with a curbstomp to the chest, and hiptosses Kazarian onto him with a legdrop for two. Sweet double-team neckbreaker gets two. Kazarian tries a suplex, but AJ counters into a neckbreaker and makes the hot tag to Angle. Suplex for Daniels, german suplex for Kaz, and then another one for Daniels. Angle Slam for Daniels for two. Rolling germans on Kazarian, which turns into a DOUBLE GERMAN SUPLEX on the champions. Crazy pop for that. Anklelock on Daniels, but Kaz breaks it up. Daniels tries the Wings, but it’s back to AJ and he hits both guys with a DDT at the same time. Blind charge misses and Daniels rolls the dice on him, but Angle throws him with a suplex to get rid of him. AJ faceplants Kazarian for two. Everyone is out and the crowd finally starts the “This is awesome” chant, a place where it’s warranted for sure. AJ slugs away on Kazarian in the corner and they go up, but Angle runs in with the pop up superplex. Daniels flattens Angle with the STO and he slugs it out with AJ, but puts him down with a uranage. Moonsault misses and he lands right in Angle’s german suplex, and Styles hits the Pele kick on Kazarian. Kurt goes up with a flying splash for two, but Daniels punks out the ref to save. Styles hits HIM with a shooting star press to the floor (!!) and Angle finishes Kazarian with the HEEL HOOK OF DEATH to win the titles at 14:19. THIS IS AWESOME, indeed. ****1/2 I don’t even care about the main event quality, I’ve gotten my money back out of this show a few times over already. TNA World title: Bobby Roode v. Sting They fight outside right away and Sting goes for the deathlock early, but Roode bails to escape. Sting sends him back in and gets caught with a necksnap as a result. Roode pounds away and blocks a blind charge for two, and it’s sleeper time. Sting reverses to his own, but Roode quickly escapes with the backdrop suplex. Sting comes back with a superplex into the deathlock, but Roode makes the ropes. They fight outside again and Sting hits him with the Stinger splash into the railing, which marks one of the only times he ever actually HITS that move. He carries on with a Scorpion deathlock on the announce table, but Roode’s tap doesn’t count there. Roode stops for a cold one, stealing the leftover beer from James Storm’s match, and lays out Sting with a bottle to retain at 10:50. Nice bit of continuity there. This was just a match, about the best you’re going to get out of Sting these days. ** Sting destroys him on the stage afterwards, and we’re out. The Pulse Best PPV of 2012 thus far. I know we always say that they should have fired Vince Russo years ago, but THEY SHOULD HAVE FIRED VINCE RUSSO YEARS AGO! The angles are slowed down and given time to develop, things make more sense, and the PPV actually paid things off with wrestling matches in the ring! Thank you, TNA, for actually justifying my purchase of this show and not letting me down on an impulse buy like WWE has done so many times before. Get the replay on Tuesday and vote with your wallet to show TNA that this direction is working. Huge thumbs up.